Saturday, January 11, 2014

Texas Keeps Woman on Life Support, Against Her and Her Family's Wishes, to Incubate Her Fetus

DallasNews: Texas denies pregnant woman's grieving family the right to say goodbye, by Jacquielynn Floyd:

Marlise Munoz died the week after Thanksgiving.

Doctors believe she suffered a pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot to the lungs -- that cut off her oxygen. When her husband, Erick, found Marlise in their Tarrant County home, she wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

She was gone.

If there is any mercy in the sudden loss of this happy young wife and mother, it’s that she doesn’t know she has since lingered in a hopeless twilight, her respiration artificially supported by machines.

She made it clear she didn’t want this. Her grieving husband and parents don’t want it either. But a not-very-well known statute under state law says Marlise, 33, doesn’t have the same right to a peaceful, natural death as other Texans because she is pregnant. . . .

DallasNews: Texas laws unclear in case of pregnant Fort Worth woman kept on life support, by Brittney Martin:

Conflicting Texas statutes are contributing to confusion about whether a hospital must keep a pregnant Tarrant County woman on life support against the wishes of her family. . . .

January 11, 2014 in Fetal Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

U.S. Teen Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Hit Record Lows

ThinkProgress: Pregnancy, Birth, And Abortion Rates For U.S. Teens Have All Hit A Record Low, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

There’s some encouraging news in the Centers for Disease Control’s latest report about pregnancy rates among U.S. women. According to the agency, teen pregnancies have been steadily declining over the past two decades — hitting a new historic low in 2009, the most recent year with data on the subject. That’s led to new lows for the rates of teen births and abortions, too. . . . 

December 5, 2013 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Freedman & Stulberg on Conflicts in Care for Obstetric Complications in Catholic Hospitals

Lori R. Freedman (University of California, San Fransisco) & Debra B. Stulberg (The University of Chicago Medical Center) have published Conflicts in Care for Obstetric Complications in Catholic Hospitals in AJOB Primary Research.  Here is the abstract:

A recent national survey revealed that over half of obstetrician-gynecologists working in Catholic hospitals have conflicts with religious policies, but the survey did not elucidate the nature of the conflicts. Our qualitative study examines the nature of physician conflicts with religious policies governing obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) care. Results related to restrictions on the management of obstetric complications are reported here. Methods: In-depth interviews lasting about one hour were conducted with obstetrician-gynecologists throughout the United States. Questions focused on physicians’ general satisfaction with their hospital work settings and specific experiences with religious doctrine-based ob-gyn policies in the various hospitals where they have worked. Results: Conflicts reported here include cases in which Catholic hospital religious policy (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services) impacted physicians’ abilities to offer treatment to women experiencing certain obstetric emergencies, such as pregnancy-related health problems, molar pregnancy, miscarriage, or previable premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), because hospital authorities perceived treatment as equivalent to a prohibited abortion. Physicians were contractually obligated to follow doctrine-based policies while practicing in these Catholic hospitals. Conclusions: For some physicians, their hospital's prohibition on abortion initially seemed congruent with their own principles, but when applied to cases in which patients were already losing a desired pregnancy and/or the patient's health was at risk, some physicians found the institutional restrictions on care to be unacceptable.

H/t: Linda Hutjens

November 19, 2013 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Documentary Addresses Lack of Abortion Access on a South Dakota Reservation

Feministing: New Documentary Young Lakota About Lack of Abortion Access on a Reservation, by Juliana Brittos:

In 2006, Cecilia Fire Thunder, Tribal Leader of the Ogala Sioux, threatened to build a women’s health clinic on tribal land in response to a proposed South Dakota no-exceptions abortion ban. This ban meant that the 1 in 3 Native American women who would or had been raped in the state would have to carry any ensuing pregnancies to term. “Young Lakota” follows the story of three young people living on a reservation in South Dakota in the political aftermath of Fire Thunder’s action. Ms. Magazine described the film as, “a story of self-discovery in the midst of political and personal upheaval.” . . .

November 10, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Film, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Salon on "The Right's War on Pregnant Women"

Salon: The Right's War on Pregnant Women, by Katie McDonough:

It is no secret that this has been a banner year for laws attempting to recriminalize abortion. During the first six months of 2013, states adopted 43 provisions to ban abortion, impose medically unnecessary restrictions on providers or otherwise regulate the procedure into nonexistence.

But framing the current assault on reproductive rights exclusively in terms of abortion rights erases another, equally dangerous reality faced by women who intend to carry their pregnancies to term: laws that establish personhood for fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses aren’t just a threat to women’s access to abortion — they are also being used to criminalize and incarcerate pregnant women. . . . .

November 3, 2013 in Anti-Choice Movement, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guttmacher Study Suggests Women Often Mistakenly Underestimate Their Risk of Pregnancy

Guttmacher Institute: A Year of Magical Thinking Leads to...Unintended Pregnancy, by Rebecca Wind:

Guttmacher_instQualitative Study Explores Women's Perceptions of Pregnancy Risk

In-depth interviews with 49 women obtaining abortions in the United States found that most of the study participants perceived themselves to be at low risk of becoming pregnant at the time that it happened. According to "Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions," by Lori Frohwirth of the Guttmacher Institute et al., the most common reasons women gave for thinking they were at low risk of pregnancy included a perception of invulnerability, a belief that they were infertile, self-described inattention to the possibility of pregnancy and a belief that they were protected by their (often incorrect) use of a contraceptive method. Most participants gave more than one response. . . .

November 2, 2013 in Contraception, Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lawsuit Challenges Wisconsin Law Allowing Pregnant Women To Be Incarcerated For Conduct Deemed Risky to Their Fetuses

The New York Times: Case Explores Rights of Fetus Versus Mother, by Erik Eckholm:

Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own — something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug. . . .


(h/t David Nadvorney)

I found this quotation from one doctor especially chilling:  

“She exhibits lack of self-control and refuses the treatment we have offered her,” wrote Dr. Breckenridge, who, according to Ms. Beltran, had not personally met or examined her. [Dr. Breckenridge] recommended “a mandatory inpatient drug treatment program or incarceration" . . . .

This sounds like something out of The Yellow Wallpaper.


October 24, 2013 in Fetal Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Despite Advances, Ethical Problems Continue to Surround Premature Birth

The New York Times - op-ed: End of Life, at Birth, by April R. Dworetz:

FIFTY years ago this Wednesday, Americans were gripped by the fate of a baby — Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the first child born to a sitting president since the 19th century, and John F. Kennedy’s last. He arrived on Aug. 7, 1963, five and a half weeks premature. Despite medical heroics, including the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, he died 39 hours later.

Neonatal care has improved greatly since then. Were he born today, Patrick, who was delivered at 34 weeks’ gestation, would very likely survive and have a healthy life, too.

For all the biomedical advances, though, the key ethical problems surrounding premature birth remain. . . .


H/T: Carol Sanger

August 7, 2013 in Bioethics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Study Shows Poverty is the Real Danger to Children Exposed to Cocaine In Utero

Salon: Long Term Study Debunks Myth of the "Crack Baby", by Katie McDonough:

After nearly 25 years of research, one of the nation’s largest long-term studies on the so-called “crack baby” epidemic of the 1980s has concluded that there are no statistically significant differences in the long-term health and life outcomes between full-term babies exposed to cocaine in-utero and those who were not.

Instead, researchers found poverty to be a key determining factor in how well children performed later in life. As Hallam Hurt, the former chair of neonatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center and the study’s lead researcher, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine.” . . .

August 4, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Department of Educ. Office for Civil Rights Urges Greater Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: Dear Colleague Letter:

Dear Colleague:

We as a nation need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of young people who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers. According to studies cited in the attached pamphlet, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 26 percent of young men and young women combined who had dropped out of public high schools — and one-third of young women — said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school. And, only 51 percent of young women who had a child before age 20 earned their high school diploma by age 22. The educational prospects are worse at the higher-education level. Only 2 percent of young women who had a child before age 18 earned a college degree by age 30. This low education attainment means that young parents are more likely than their peers to be unemployed or underemployed, and the ones who do find jobs will, on average, earn significantly less than their peers.

To help improve the high school and college graduation rates of young parents, we must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can stay in school and complete their education, and thereby build better lives for themselves and their children. . . .

July 9, 2013 in Parenthood, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rebecca Cook on Brazilian Maternal Mortality Case

Rebecca CookRebecca J. Cook (University of Toronto Faculty of Law) has published Human Rights and Maternal Health: Exploring the Effectiveness of the Alyne Decision. The article is available on readcube.  Here is the abstract:

This article explores the effectiveness of the decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the case of Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira (deceased) v. Brazil, concerning a poor, Afro-Brazilian woman. This is the first decision of an international human rights treaty body to hold a state accountable for its failure to prevent an avoidable death in childbirth. Assessing the future effectiveness of this decision might be undertaken concretely by determining the degree of Brazil’s actual compliance with the Committee’s recommendations, and how this decision influences pending domestic litigation arising from the maternal death. Alternative approaches include: determining whether, over time, the decision leads to the elimination of discrimination against women of poor, minority racial status in the health sector, and if it narrows the wide gap between rates of maternal mortality of poor, Afro-Brazilian women and the country’s general female population. Determining the effectiveness of this decision will guide whether to pursue a more general strategy of judicializing maternal mortality.

May 23, 2013 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Akiba Solomon on Evangelical "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" Targeting Black Women

Colorlines:  The Missionary Movement to 'Save' Black Babies, by Akiba Solomon:

Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City. . . .

May 9, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Khiara M. Bridges on Pregnancy as Injury

Khiara M. Bridges (Boston University School of Law) has posted When Pregnancy Is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture on SSRN. Here is the abstract:     


This Article examines criminal statutes that grade more severely sexual assaults that result in pregnancy. These laws, which define pregnancy as a “substantial bodily injury,” run directly counter to positive constructions of pregnancy within culture. The fact that the criminal law, in this instance, reflects this negative, subversive understanding of pregnancy creates the possibility that this idea may be received within culture as a construction of pregnancy that is as legitimate as positive understandings. In this way, these laws create possibilities for the reimagining of pregnancy within law and society. Moreover, these laws recall the argumentation that proponents of abortion rights once made – argumentation that one no longer hears and sees in the debates surrounding abortion. However, recent developments in antiabortion argumentation – namely the notion accepted in Carhart II that it is abortion that injures women – counsel the retrieval of the argument that unwanted pregnancies are injuries to women. Thus, the sexual assault laws are means to legitimatize a claim that may serve as an effective counterdiscourse to prevailing antiabortion argumentation. 

April 17, 2013 in Abortion, Gonzales v. Carhart, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

International Women's Day: Women's Global Health Still at Risk

GlobeThe Huffington Post: International Women's Day 2013: 7 Sadly Disturbing Truths About Women's Bodies (HOW YOU CAN HELP), by Eleanor Goldberg:

On International Women’s Day, we have a number of groundbreaking accomplishments to celebrate. This year alone, women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat and President Obama inched closer to pushing for equal pay for men and women.

Global health for women has also seen some major boons, too. The number of mothers who die during childbirth has been reduced by almost 50 percent and HIV drug prices have fallen by more than 99 percent since 2000.

But we’re not done fighting yet. . . .

March 7, 2013 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC Stirs Controversy with Posters on Teen Pregnancy

The New York Times: Posters on Teenage Pregnancy Draw Fire, by Kate Taylor:

The curly-haired baby looks out from the poster with sad eyes and tears dripping down his tawny cheeks.

“I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” the text next to his head reads.

In another poster, a dark-skinned little girl casts her eyes to the sky and says, “Honestly Mom ... chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”

These images, part of a public education campaign targeting teenage pregnancy that the city unveiled this week, are drawing mounting criticism from reproductive health advocates, women who had children as teenagers, and others . . . .


The two ads described here, in addition to stigmatizing pregnant teens and reinforcing stereotypes, are disturbing in the way they target teen mothers through the fictional accusations of their own babies.  Did the mayor's office forget that it takes two to create a pregnancy?  Blaming "bad mothers" is a time-worn, punitive, and utterly unproductive way to try to address the social realities of poverty and sex and race discrimination.  Read PPNYC's response to the ads here.


March 7, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Guardian Offers Timeline of "2012 War on Women"

The Guardian: The War on Women, by Heather Long:

2012 was a tough year for American females as various aspects of female health and reproduction repeatedly took center stage. Politicians and pundits, mainly Republican, made degrading and factually incorrect remarks about rape and contraception. But Democrats also left their mark with an ill-timed snipe at stay-at-home mom Ann Romney, reinvigorating the "mommy wars".

Here are the key moments in the 2012 War on Women . . . .

March 5, 2013 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Contraception, Fetal Rights, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Parenthood, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Sexuality, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No End in Sight to GOP Ignorance and Insensitivity on Pregnancy Resulting from Rape

Huffington Post:  Celeste Greig, California Republican, Claims Pregnancy From Rape Is Rare:

Celeste greigThe president of California's oldest and largest GOP volunteer group took a wrong turn while trying to criticize GOP candidates' missteps on women's reproductive rights when she argued that pregnancies resulting from rape are rare "because the body is traumatized."

Celeste Greig leads the California Republican Assembly, which former President Ronald Reagan once called "the conscience of the Republican Party." It works to elect conservative Republicans to public office. . . . 

There is already a petition asking for Greig's resignation here.  

March 5, 2013 in Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pregnant Texas Teen Sues Parents to Avoid Abortion

TIME: In Texas, a Pregnant Teen Sues Her Parents to Avoid an Abortion, by Bonnie Rochman:

Image1 Earlier this month, Jaime Burnside called an attorney in Texas to help her teen-age son. His girlfriend was pregnant and wanted to have the baby, but her parents wanted her to have an abortion.

It’s the kind of case that invigorates the Texas Center for Defense of Life, which has handled three similar situations in the two years since it was founded. “Parents think they’re making a decision for their daughters like pulling a tooth or getting their tonsils out,” says Stephen Casey, who spoke to the boy’s mother and agreed to file suit against the girl’s parents. “But now that the girl is pregnant, the parents become grandparents and they can’t make a decision for the girl about her unborn child.”. . .

February 27, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teen Birth Rate Nearly One-Third Higher in Rural Areas of U.S.

The Hill - Healthwatch:  Study: Teen birth rate highest in rural areas, by Elise Viebeck:

The teen birth rate in rural areas of the United States is nearly one-third greater than in other parts of the country, according to a new study. 

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found declining teen birth rates across the country have been slower to take effect in rural counties. . . . 

February 27, 2013 in Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. 2008 Teen Pregnancy Data – State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity

Guttmacher Institute – News Release: 2008 State-Level Teen Pregnancy Data Now Available, by Rebecca Wind: Image1

Teen pregnancy rates declined steadily in all 50 states between 1988 and 2005. However, between 2005 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate decreased by 5% or more in 7 states, while increasing by 5% or more in 16 states, according to "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity." While these short-term increases are troubling, recent evidence from the CDC, including further reductions in teen birth rates in nearly all states between 2008 and 2010 and preliminary numbers indicating a decrease in teen abortions in 2009, indicate that teen pregnancy rates will continue their long-term declines. . . .

February 27, 2013 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)